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News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Rendezvous | D and T to meet at JET in 2020

    In 2020, for the first time in more than 20 years, a reaction that only occurs in the core of the stars will be produced on Earth in a man-made machine. In the [...]

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  • On site | MOMENTUM believes in recent graduates

    It is rare for students to leave university and immediately begin work on a globally significant project. But thanks to the graduate program run by the project' [...]

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  • Tokamak Pit | Big steel elbow in place

    A cryostat feedthrough delivered by the Chinese Domestic Agency has become the first metal component of the machine to be installed in the Tokamak Pit, in an op [...]

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  • Neutral beam source | Europe awards EUR 20 million contract

    The contract, awarded to ALSYOM-SEIV (ALCEN group, France), launches the manufacturing phase for the beam source that will come on line in 2022 as part of the f [...]

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  • Image of the week | US Under Secretary of Science tours site

    Five months, almost to the day, after the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited ITER, his deputy, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, stood by the same [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

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Microsoft co-founder visits ITER

Laban Coblentz, Head of Communication

He co-founded of one of the most iconic companies of the last half-century. His philanthropy and technology innovation has made him a champion in the fight against Ebola ... a primary funder of major brain science and artificial intelligence research ... and a leader of multiple deep-sea wreck discovery and recovery missions. He is the executive producer of several award-winning films. He owns three professional sports teams. And he is a passionate guitarist.

So why would Paul Allen of Microsoft fame decide to carve out time from his very full life to visit ITER?

''A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth,'' said Paul Allen (left) on his recent tour of the ITER worksite. (Click to view larger version...)
''A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth,'' said Paul Allen (left) on his recent tour of the ITER worksite.

In Allen's words, "I was at the Cannes Film Festival, supporting the new Star Wars film. A visit to ITER was my chance to see preparations for the birth of a star on Earth."

A rapid review of Allen's diverse investment and philanthropic portfolios—from his 1975 co-founding of Microsoft with Bill Gates to his most recent ventures in bioscience, environmental conservation, and microgrids in Africa—reveals a fertile mind driven by curiosity and a remarkably broad range of interests. This includes fusion. Through his company, Vulcan, Inc., Allen has long been an investor in TAE Technologies, formerly Tri Alpha Energy, a 20-year-old privately funded effort to develop aneutronic¹ fusion power based on a field-reversed configuration.

For ITER, it was an honour for Director-General Bernard Bigot and chief scientist Tim Luce to host Allen and his team. Global progress in ITER's manufacturing and construction activities was a central point of interest—as was the set of remaining engineering and science hurdles that must be addressed to bring tokamak fusion to commercial fruition.

Several of those challenges, interestingly, lie in fields of Allen's expertise: big data, high performance computing, control software, artificial intelligence, and signal processing. Who knows? Perhaps our paths will cross again.

¹A field-reversed configuration differs from a tokamak in that the magnetic confinement of the plasma is controlled by eddy currents reversing the axial field, rather than by using a solenoid to generate an ambient field.


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